Caswell County Fair Closed This Year
By LAUREN CHESNUT
YANCEYVILLE, N.C. - Like the area’s great tobacco farming legacy, it seems as if the Caswell County Fair, a nonprofit endeavor that has benefited veterans and showcased the county’s agricultural and crafts heritage for half a century, may now be just a memory.
With half the attendance of what was needed to break even at the 2004 county fair, the fair lost about $3,000. Its carnival midway company for the last several years, Inners Amusements, said it couldn’t afford to bring its 15 rides to Yanceyville again this year, according to Caswell County Fair Association board member Hoyt Moore.
Moore and his wife, Doris Moore, said they’ve helped coordinate all 49 of the county’s fairs, including last year’s.
“We were hoping to get to that 50th anniversary (this year), but we didn’t make it,” Hoyt Moore said.
Moore said attendance had declined in the several years before 2004.
“Last year, it just dropped off,” he said.
“People just didn’t take an interest. I reckon there are so many things to do now. I don’t know.”
Moore said he’s seen other small county fairs in North Carolina experience hard times.
“We probably should have gone out five years ago, but we just kept hanging in there,” he said.
The Caswell County Fair Association, which is made up of five members each from Yanceyville’s American Legion Post 89 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7316, owns the county fairgrounds on County Home Road.
Proceeds from the Caswell County Fair were donated to veterans’ hospitals, Moore said.
The fair is not a for-profit venture, he stressed. He said Caswell veterans originally decided to host a county fair in order to promote what the rural county had to offer and to provide an affordable outdoor event for residents.
“The board is kind of discouraged at this particular time,” Hoyt Moore said.
“What’s really sad is that we used to have to beg for help (with the fair),” said Doris Moore. “Now everybody says, ‘Oh, Mrs. Moore, we’d have been glad to help.’”
Hoyt Moore said if the community let him know it would support a county fair in 2006, a fair board member would go to the North Carolina Association of Agricultural Fairs’ annual convention in January and try to find a carnival company willing to run the fair’s midway next year.
“We’re going to do it right or not do it at all,” he said.
Doris Moore said she’d love to hear from people interested in seeing the Caswell County Fair tradition continue. The Moores’ phone number is (336) 694-6144.
Fairs freshen up to broaden appeal USA Today, 07347456, JUL 11, 2006
MAS Ultra - School Edition
Fairs freshen up to broaden appeal
State and county festivals pinched by competition
Section: News, Pg. 01a
State and county fairs hurt by financial problems and falling attendance are trying to attract young, urban audiences this summer by adding skateboard-decorating contests, Harry Potter displays and ethnic foods to traditional offerings.
"We've got to come up with something unique," says Larry Gabriel, agriculture secretary in South Dakota, where some legislators considered shutting down the money-losing state fair. "It's never going to get easy to keep a fair operating, because we're competing against so many more events."
Competition comes from amusement parks, casinos and vacation destinations such as Branson, Mo., and Las Vegas, he says.
The Caswell County, N.C., fair closed last year, one year short of its 50th anniversary. The final fair drew only 2,000 people over five days. In Michigan, nearly half of 88 local and county fairs lost money last year, says E.J. Brown of the Michigan Association of Fairs & Exhibitions.
Rising costs for fuel and insurance contribute to fairs' budget problems. Most fairs are subsidized by county or state governments. Some fairs are adjusting to tough times by shortening their runs or rescheduling to the July Fourth or Labor Day holidays. Many are updating exhibits and contests. Some fairs are enlivening their core focus by adding animal birthing centers and milking parlors.
Max Willis of the International Association of Fairs and Expositions says the group doesn't track fairs' bottom lines. Fairs are trying "to appeal to their clientele," he says. "They have to keep up with the times."
TEXT OF INFO BOX BEGINS HERE
New kinds of fun on schedule
Many county fairs are updating activities:
*The Wilson County, Tenn., fair has contests for decorated skateboards and text messaging.
*A new wine bar at the Wisconsin State Fair features jazz and blues music.
*A "cellfest" at the Marin County, Calif., fair includes videos and photos created by fairgoers on their cellphones. There's also a Harry Potter-inspired exhibit with a 20-foot rotating cavern.
*South Dakota's state fair dropped rodeos because of sinking attendance. Now it hosts championship bull riding, broadcast on the Outdoor Channel. The fair runs five days, down from eight.
*Mexican and Middle Eastern food are a trend at New England fairs, says Bob Silk of the New Hampshire Association of Fairs and Expositions. "People are getting away from just eating the sausage, french fries and fried dough," he says.
(c) USA TODAY, 2006